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A Supercharged Cord Sportsman in Canada and designer Gordon M. Buehrig’s Cord 810 patent drawings.

If you stop and think about it for a moment, a f.w.d. car like the Cord 810 or 812 was the perfect car for use up in Canada, were winters are quite long and snowy. The car pictured here, is an 812 Sportsman convertible shown posed on an icy driveway. Only three thousand Cords were produced in 1936 for the 810 model run, but many remained unsold and were re-numbered as the 812 model for 1937, the final year of  E. L. Cord’s automotive empire.

So much has been written in the press about this timeless beauty, that we thought we would take a different look at the car and focus on its styling. This Cord like so many other landmark designs, seems to have evolved over time. The first two patent drawings, dated May 17, 1934, by the very talented designer  Gordon M. Buehrig, (above and below left), show the basic design that was used in production with a few exceptions, the first is he had planned to add radiators below the wing-shaped panels between the hood and fenders. The headlights also were planed to open out of the sides of the fenders instead of the front and one other difference noted, is the center pillar between the doors has a tapered shape as seen on some earlier Buehrig designs.


The photos (right above and left below), dated Aug. 5, 1935, show a close to finished design, shown in plan and side-views, with the grille being extended all the way back to the cowl below the hood. The combined front end and rear end views, show a design quite close to what ended up in production. The last photo (below right), dated May 11, 1936, shows the final “coffin-nosed” hood design, with seven horizontal louvers used on the standard production models. The supercharged 812 models had the side-pipes as seen on the photo at the top.

You can also see a Hollywood Graham here on The Old Motor, which used the left over body dies from the Cord for its last model run in 1940. More information about the very interesting Cord, can be found at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club.


7 responses to “A Supercharged Cord Sportsman in Canada and designer Gordon M. Buehrig’s Cord 810 patent drawings.

  1. Ah my favorite automobile.

    They say the first time you see a Cord you will remember it for the rest of your life. They are really like nothing else. Mr. Buehrig actually came up with this design while working for General Motors Art and Colour. The concept was an automobile with a sealed engine compartment to keep a beautiful engine clean. Harley Earl hated this design. In fact one of the first Cord’s sold was to General Motors for evaluation. The original plans called for polished aluminium heads and intake. The sealed engine compartment idea created the famous coffin nose. When Mr. Buehrig left GM he took his design with him to ACD. In the begining the car was to be a “Baby Deusenburg” It was based on a Auburn straight 8 platform. Those wing shaped things on the hood are actually out board radiators, the hidden headlamps were also located on the inside of the fenders and when you put them up they blacked the flow of air to the radiators. Both ideas were lost in the production car. Radiator was moved to the front and the headlamps were moved to the front of the fenders.

    It was not until 1935 that this car became a CORD, a new front wheel drive engine and drivetrain were designed, As a side note the original Cord FWD the L-29 was based on the work of Mr. Harry Miller and his FWD race cars of the teens.

    The 810 / 812 Cord’s had over 100 automotive firsts. The major firsts: Unit Body construction, No exposed door hinges, flush mounted tail lamps, concealed headlamps ( this was borrowed from Stitson aircraft landing gear another CORD owned company ), Constant velocity joints, locking fuel door, backlite guages, standard radio ( Mr. Cord owned a chain of radio stations ), the fuel guage has a button which turns it into the oil guage ( so you can check your oil while driving ), air cooled brakees, etc…

    The photo of the car in Canada would appear to be a 1937 812 Super-Charged Convertible Coupe or Sportsman. With external exhaust.
    The external exhaust was added in 1937 by Alex Tremulis of Tucker Fame. Mr. Cord hated the external exhaust. He went as far as to fire Mr. Tremulis only to rehire him after the external exhaust was well recieved by the public. Many 1936 810 cars had external exhaust added. The early side pipe or external exhaust screens were made of heavy wire mesh like a SJ Deusenbergs side screen. Later cars had a sloted chrome trim piece. Side pipes do not mean the car is Super-Charged. Many non Super-Charged cars had side pipes. A little know fact is one could order a 812 Super-Charged car with out side pipes. I thin there are three of them known. They are the original “sleeper”.

    When you drive a Cord you swear it has power steering, it is light and responsive. The 288 cubic inch Lycoming engine is peppy, and if you add the Switzer-Cummins Super-Charger the car will beg to be run fast.

    Why did ACD close? Where they put out of business by the depression? No, Mr. Cord was a very smart business man, he had a policy. If a company did not turn a profit ( he owned several hundered ) it had one more year to fix the problem. ACD broke even for 2 years in a row. Mr. Cord stuck to his policy and sold ACD. Years later when asked if he had any regrets in business, he said “One, selling my car company”.

    If you ever have the chance to drive or own a Cord do not let it pass you by.

  2. I believe I remember reading that Buehrig’s original concept included a sealed engine compartment with the radiator(s) mounted externally. I guess he liked a clean engine. The first patent drawing may show that concept – the “grille” may not have had any openings.

    • One of Mr. Buehrig’s favorite cars were the Renaults of the 1920’s. If we look at those cars we can see a “closed” engine compartment.

      You are right, the first ideation of the Cord had no opening in the engine compartment, because the radiators were externally mounted.

      One other fact, the reason for the clean engine. Mr. Buehrig had a custom bodied Model A Ford with a hopped up engine. It had polished aluminum parts and was difficult to keep clean.

      So we may owe the existance of the Cord to a Model A Ford and Renault.

  3. More of your usual VERY cool stuff, David. The “B” pillar treatment on the sedan in the patent drawings reminds me of that on the 1933 Duesenberg Rollston SJ Arlington Torpedo Sedan, a/k/a the Twenty Grand.

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